Judy Chicago

Judy Chicago

[shi-kah-goh, -kaw-]
Chicago, Judy (Judy Gerowitz Chicago), 1939-, American artist, b. Chicago as Judy Cohen. A feminist and founder of the Women's Art Education collective, she works in a variety of media, including such historically female crafts as needlework and china painting. Her best-known work, The Dinner Party (1974-78), is a sexually explicit multimedia installation executed by Chicago and a large group of craftswomen. An iconic feminist work that pays tribute to 39 notable women and their historically significant contributions to civilization (and also includes the names of 999 lesser known women), it became part of the Brooklyn Museum of Art collection in 2002 and the centerpiece of the museum's newly opened Sackler Center for Feminist Art in 2007. Subjects explored in her later projects have included childbirth, women's perception of men, and the Holocaust.

See her autobiographical Through the Flower (1975, rev. ed. 1982) and Beyond the Flower (1996) and her The Dinner Party: From Creation to Preservation (2007); biography by G. Levin (2007).

Judy Chicago (born Judy Cohen on July 20, 1939) is a feminist artist, author, and educator.

Judy Chicago is a feminist artist who has been making work since the middle 1960s. Her earliest forays into art-making coincided with the rise of Minimalism, which she eventually abandoned in favor of art she believed to have greater content and relevancy. Major works include The Dinner Party and The Holocaust Project.

Born in 1939 in Chicago, she moved to Los Angeles in 1957 to attend UCLA art school, where she was graduated in 1962 Phi Beta Kappa. In 1964, she received her MA from UCLA in painting and sculpture. In 1966, Chicago's work "Rainbow Pickets" was shown in "Primary Structures," a major minimalist exhibition at the Jewish Museum. In 1970, Chicago founded the first Feminist Art program at California State University at Fresno. This program was documented in the film "Judy Chicago and the California Girls", directed by Judith Dancoff and released in 1971. She also changed her last name to Chicago, emulating members of the Black Panther Party, who believed their given names only re-enforced their "slave" identities.

In 1971 Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro jointly founded the CalArts Feminist Art Program for the California Institute of the Arts. Together they organized one of the first-ever feminist art exhibitions - Womanhouse - 30 January-28 February 1972. In 1973, Chicago co-founded the Feminist Studio Workshop, located inside the Los Angeles Women's Building, a seminal feminist art teaching and exhibition space.

Judy Chicago is most famous for her 1974-1979 work The Dinner Party. This work, in which hundreds of volunteers participated, has been housed since 2002 in the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It was donated to the museum by The Elizabeth A. Sackler Foundation. It is now permanently housed at the Brooklyn Museum within the Elizabeth A Sackler Center for Feminist Art which opened in March 2007. It is a homage to women's history in the form of a large triangular table with symbolic ceramic plates representing 39 famous women guests-of-honor. The work is intended as an elevation to heroic scale of the contributions of women in a way that has been excluded throughout history.

Other famous works include Birth Project (which brought together a national network of skilled needle-workers 1980 -1985), the 1993 Holocaust Project personifying the final solution, and the 1994 work Resolutions, which returned to the theme of feminism, a thread that runs through all of her work.

In 2004 Chicago completed the "Envisioning the Future" project in Pomona, California. The project including creating a 140' x 40' mural of the Goddess Pomona entitled Pomona Envisions the Future.

Currently, Chicago is married to photographer Donald Woodman and serves as the Artistic Director of Through the Flower, a non-profit arts organization created in 1978 to support her work. The U.S. copyright representative for Judy Chicago and Through the Flower is the Artists Rights Society. A biography, Becoming Judy Chicago, by Dr. Gail Levin, was released in February, 2007.

Her latest body of work is titled Chicago in Glass. "Chicago in Glass" (a retrospective of Judy Chicago's work in glass) will be on display at the Canadian Clay and Glass Gallery, Waterloo ON from September 9th to January 13, 2008. The exhibition has been a great success thus far. It opened with a sold-out talk by the artist.

A member of the Guerrilla Girls, in an interview, is quoted as saying "...we just didn't want any more Judy Chicagos. No more monsters".

Judy Chicago is an advisory board member of the organization Feminists For Animal Rights.

Written works

  • Through the Flower: My Struggle as a Woman Artist (1975)
  • The Dinner Party: A Symbol of Our Heritage (1979)
  • Embroidering Our Heritage: The Dinner Party Needlework (1980)
  • The Birth Project (1985)
  • Holocaust Project: From Darkness into Light (1993)
  • The Dinner Party (1996)
  • Beyond the Flower: The Autobiography of a Feminist Artist (1996)
  • Fragments from the Delta of Venus (2004)
  • Kitty City: A Feline Book of Hours (2005)


External links

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